Since we first saw Princess Leia appear in a hologram projected from R2-D2’s projector – if not before – we’ve been waiting for holographic projections to come into their own. In some ways, they have been around and put to use. One that has been around is the ghostly figure saying goodbye as you leave any of the Disney Parks’ Haunted Mansion rides. But, there was the need for even more than that simple loop. I had heard Peter Guber talk about his experience at Sony’s corporate headquarters in Japan – where he had an interaction with a holograph without realizing it. So, fuller-functioning hologram’s been nearing reality for a while. Tupac Shakur’s performance in death at Coachella may have been the coming out party for hologram technology, but is it what we really wanted?
Courtesy of AV Concepts
In my blog from a few days ago, I mentioned the appearance of Tupac during Dre and Snoop’s set to close during the Coachella music festival. I mentioned that his holographic representation was cool, but also somewhat freaky. Perhaps the better sentiment was macabre. MTV.com captures the essence of the performance and brings up questions about future iterations of this technology in the concert realm. I think they were right in saying that it might work in short spurts – and in the right context – but it’s not something that could deliver in a longer format. The novelty can definitely wear thin after the first few moments of wonder. A lot of the factors of acceptance will rely on who the performer is and how they are represented.
The bigger issue is whether we, or their families, are comfortable with the representation holograms provide. Beyond the fact that they are obviously not real, there can be discomfort in the “actions” they take. The celebrities’ families are usually the ones who have control over whether their likeness is used. If you look at one of the things I was most impressed with regarding the Tupac “performance,” the sound design was great. Its easier to take recordings of past performances, but Coachella didn’t even exist when Tupac was killed in 1996. But, he started his performance by yelling out. “What the (expletive) is up, Coachella?!” The utterance of Coachella and many other utterances throughout were uncanny.
What happens when deceased celebrities start saying things they would have never said in real life? There are enough issues with celebrity endorsements (direct or implied) among those who are living. I can only imagine the murky water we can get into by giving others control – even if it is the deceased’ loved ones who are making the decisions.
There was a seeming run on deceased celebrities endorsing products in the last decade of the 20th century – Fred Astaire dancing with a Dirt Devil vacuum cleaner, Louis Armstrong, Humphrey Bogart, Cary Grant Groucho Marx and Gene Kelly for Diet Coke, and John Wayne stumping for Coors Light. There was some backlash about those and they haven’t been seen much since the turn of the century. Perhaps it was because they lost the wow factor. Or, maybe it was because families and brands recognized it was certainly not a genuine endorsement. This newly realized hologram technology can cause a run on some uncomfortable endorsements.
There is certainly much to laud companies like Digital Domain and AV Concepts(who pulled this execution off) as it can lead to some truly engaging experiences in the future. Maybe the best use of the technology – when related to celebrities or other famous people – will be for historical or educational purposes. Going back to the Disney park sphere, the comparison to the Hall Of Presidents in their Florida park would be most relevant. When it first came out, the animatronics were captivating, but it was just a matter of time within the show that it became old. Holograms would take it to the next level, but how long would the still-lifeless characters maintain our attention?
As entertainers, content providers and marketers, we just really need to be smart about how we use the technology so it doesn’t enter the realm of 3D films – where most instances are a waste. We definitely don’t want any depiction to turn people off to the celebrities or brands they might represent or “endorse.”
There may be some other great opportunities for holograms in the future for communication – like Leia did in STAR WARS. We just have to be judicious when using the technology as a resurrection tool for the celebrities we love.
Posted in Core
Tagged Advertising, AV Concepts, Coachella, Coors Light, Diet Coke, Digital Domain, Dirt Devil, Disney, Dr. Dre, Endorsement, Hologram, Marketing, MTV, Performance, Peter Guber, Princess Leia, Snoop Dogg, Sony, Star Wars, Technology, Tupac Shakur
There is the saying that nothing beats the real thing, but sometimes what you have to settle for ain’t to shabby. This was the case with the Coachella Live site on YouTube. For those who were not lucky enough to get tickets nor able enough to take off for a weekend of all the crazy things that happen over the course of the weekend on a Polo field, this presentation sponsored by State Farm insurance was fantastic. Sporting three live streams on a dashboard that included thumbnails of what you’re not watching, Facebook/Twitter/Google+ and a schedule of what’s to come, there was no lack of exploration and enjoyment possible. YouTube really showcased a phenomenal product and Coachella was able to serve the fix of a much larger audience to celebrate the music exploration and wonder that is Coachella.
There were a number of elements that really made this content great:
- The interface was simple, clean and clear;
- The production quality was strong throughout. The on-site direction and coverage was comprehensive and, in some instances, rivaled that of a well produced concert video.
- The streaming quality was better than I had expected. In most cases, both the small and full screen versions were very clear. Sometimes, the images were getting pixellated, but there was no rhyme or reason that I could make out. When the image quality was good, it was great and when it wasn’t, it wasn’t that bad.
- The sound quality was clear and consistent throughout – even when the picture was not.
- The Chat was extremely active with very little delay. Unlike previous versions of this type of thing that I’ve seen, you could see songs, comments or lyrics presented on stage referenced almost immediately in the feed. The fact that three major social networks were incorporated for ease of entry and use seems like a no-brainer. It’s surprising how many feeds choose not to use more than Facebook and Twitter…
- State Farm’s sponsorship was persistent, tasteful and refined while not interfering with the content. Meaning, they didn’t pause sets to show a graphic in-stream – or some other annoying ad mechanic.
Though there was mention of the live streaming on YouTube and the Coachella site, I didn’t see any wide mentions or promotion for the feature. Perhaps I missed it and imagine there could have been some artist relationship elements to consider. Ultimately, the people who were most interested were able to find it – either by searching it out or finding it organically through friends’ social activity.
Talking about artists relations, I was impressed that the artists allowed it – and even more impressed about some of the artists that participated. With the point of the weekend(s) being music and the exploration of new music, the site makes perfect sense. I was able to check out a solid mix of acts I knew and had even seen live before with a healthy dose of new acts. I know that the experience is not the same as being there, but I am sure that Coachella Live viewers were able to jump from stage to stage much more quickly and easily than anyone who was physically there. The fact that I could jump from a great view of Miike Snow to the pit of Radiohead without leaving my chair was awesome.
On a personal note, My commute home after Radiohead’s late set on Saturday and Dr. Dre/Snoop Dogg’s star-studded show to close it all on Sunday night was much more comfortable than driving home from Indio. And, the fact that I already have State Farm insurance made me feel that I wasn’t just being a freeloader – I might even feel a little bit more loyalty to them because of it.
Hopefully, this becomes a trend for more live events as it really extends the community and the technology has come about to enable that like never before. The technology upgrades has made the experience drastically different from when I spent hours in front of the television watching Live Aid as a kid. Who would have thought then that we could control what we were watching without having to suffer through commercials and annoying MTV VJ commentary?
Props to Coachella and its partners for taking the festival to the next level by making the experience extend beyond the 180,000 people who actually get to go to the two weekends in the desert. The fact that YouTube is now hosting some of the full sets, it really extends beyond the desert. And, you get a chance to see some freaky cool things like the holographic Tupac performing. Thanks for providing the opportunity for many more people in many countries to get their fix…
Posted in Ruminations
Tagged Advertising, Coachella, Community, Dr. Dre, Exploration, Facebook, Google, Live Aid, Live Video, Miike Snow, MTV, Music, Production, Promotion, Radiohead, Snoop Dogg, State Farm, Streaming, Technology, Twitter, YouTube